Lots of questions are swirling about what Barack Obama will do as president. Will he pull us out of Iraq immediately? Will he continue focusing on securing our borders? Will he fix the health care or social security problems? Will he improve our image internationally?
Good questions. But I believe the biggest decisions of Obama's presidency are happening right now...before he even takes office. Very few people are watching, but the most significant leadership moves of his entire four-year or eight-year presidential career are being made before he ever steps in the oval office. Those decisions happened yesterday, and last week, and will continue to happen over the next few months.
I believe that because it is now that Obama is making decisions on the people he is bringing around him. His recent selections include Tom Vilsack, Arne Duncan, Hillary Clinton and Steven Chu. I don't know that much about the men and women he has tapped for key leadership positions--but I do know this...the success of Barack Obama will rise or fall on these choices.
That is true for you as well. If you are a chief executive, a senior pastor, a leader of a department or ministry--your greatest leadership challenge is surrounding yourself with the right people. It doesn't matter how good you are alone...if you don't have the right people around you, representing you, pulling with you...your leadership potential will eventually be capped.
Just as important as picking the right people--is making the tough decision to release one when you've made a bad choice. I think that may have been one of George W. Bush's leadership weaknesses...he was so loyal to his picks that he proved to be unable to release them when it became apparent they could no longer lead because of competence or the political landscape.
I get asked all the time, "What is the most important thing you do at Granger?" It's an easy answer: Hiring and firing. My job is to bring the right people on the team, resource them to do ministry well, and gracefully release staff when necessary.
It is from that lens that I am watching with great interest to see who Barack Obama will bring on his team.